Cold Meetings Don’t Convert to Sales Wins – Or Do They?

April 20, 2018

It’s one thing to get meetings. It’s another to generate sales wins.

Too many sellers rely too heavily on inbound leads, referrals, and repeat business. However, there often isn’t enough of these to go around to allow you to reach your overall sales target.

If you need to drive your own pipeline, you need cold meetings. Unfortunately, many sellers don’t even believe that cold meetings result in sales.

First off, if you don’t believe cold meetings can convert to sales, you’re right! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. For many sellers, it’s their approach to cold meetings that condemns their success.

Leading a sales meeting where you’re the one setting the meeting and driving the demand is different than when the buyer reaches out to you and requires its own approach.

When you set a meeting with a buyer, there isn’t a stated buyer need. The onus is on you to lead the conversation, bring value to the table, and inspire the buyer with your ideas and recommendations.

Cold Meetings Are Different

To handle an inbound lead, your first few questions might be something like “What’s on your mind? What do you want to achieve? What do you want to improve? What’s holding you back now?”

If you start with these in a meeting that you set, it might turn a buyer off.

If you’re like most buyers, you might think, wait a minute you’re the one who asked for this meeting. I’m not about to share my life story with you. Why are you even here? Do you have something to sell me?

While buyer-set sales meetings should start with inquiry, cold sales meetings the seller sets should include a certain amount of advocacy where you give the buyer a sense of how you can help them, who you are, and what you stand for.

In our research, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we wanted to know which content and offers most influence buyers to accept a meeting or otherwise connect with a seller. Of the 488 B2B buyers surveyed, here were their top preferences:

  • Primary research data relevant to our business (69 percent)
  • Content 100 percent customized to our specific situation (67 percent)
  • Insight on the use of products or services to solve business problems (66 percent)
  • Best-practice methodology based on the provider’s area of expertise (65 percent)
  • Insight into new and emerging business issues or market trends (63 percent)

When you connect with a buyer and set a meeting based on the premise of best practices, research, or insights, you better be prepared to deliver that during your meeting. That’s not to say the entire meeting should be a full-on dog and pony show. You still need to sprinkle in questions and make it interactive.

At the start of the meeting share an agenda that covers the offer the buyer accepted, then ask, “What would make the next 30-minutes most valuable to you? Is there anything you want to be sure we cover in more detail or is something not here you wanted to discuss?” This sets the tone for a more collaborative, conversational meeting.

Sellers who Convert Cold Meetings Bring Value

In our survey, we also wanted to know if there are any factors that the seller could control, regardless of their offering, that influenced purchase decisions. The answer is yes, to an extraordinary extent.

Factors that influence buyer purchase decision:

  1. Focuses on value they could deliver me (96 percent)
  2. Collaborates with me (93 percent)
  3. Educates me with new ideas and perspectives (92 percent)
  4. Provides valuable insight related to my industry or market (92 percent)
  5. Deepens my understanding of my needs (92 percent)

If you want to convert cold meetings into sales, focus on the value you can deliver to buyers, work with them collaboratively, and bring forward ideas that will make a difference to their business.

This all starts with intriguing and inspiring buyers in your first sales meeting. We found that 71 percent of buyers want to talk to sellers when they are considering new ideas and possibilities.

Yet buyers say that 58 percent of their sales meetings are not valuable.

If you’ve had limited success converting cold meetings to sales, it may not be because cold meetings don’t convert. It may be because your buyers don’t find your meetings valuable.

Want even more sales prospecting tips? Download 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked here.

Mike Schultz


Mike Schultz is a bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling, Director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, and President of RAIN Group, a global sales training and performance improvement company. He and RAIN Group have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 62 countries improve sales results and unleash their sales potential.